On Tuesday morning, Buster Olney continued his rankings of the top players in baseball at each position. The Pittsburgh Pirates failed to get a top ten player in any of his first seven articles, which covered starting pitchers, relief pitchers, catchers and all four infield spots. Josh Harrison and Felipe Rivero were each mentioned among the “best of the rest”, which is a small group just outside the top ten at each spot. Other than that, these rankings have looked bad for the Pirates.
On Tuesday, the shutout streak ended when the left fielder list came out and Starling Marte was ranked ninth overall. He ranks fourth for NL left fielders and second for NL Central left fielders behind Marcell Ozuna of the Cardinals, who ranks first overall. That’s a big drop for Marte, who Olney ranked first overall going into 2016 and second overall going into last year.
The drop was expected due to the combination of his PED suspension and a .712 OPS in 77 games, which was the lowest of his career. Olney mentioned in his ranking that the uncertainty of his offense going into 2018 knocked him down the list, but his Gold Glove caliber defense still makes him a valuable player if the offense doesn’t return to pre-2017 levels.
Center fielders are up tomorrow, so things should get a little bit better overall for the Pirates. Last year, Olney had three Pirates in his top ten (Marte, Andrew McCutchen and Gregory Polanco), plus Harrison and Francisco Cervelli made his honorable mention category. That made them an average overall team for the league as far as rankings, but unless Polanco gets a favorable ranking on Thursday when the right field list comes out, they are going to be below average this year.